And here's the long-awaited picture of me in a hat. No, it wasn't my own wedding. My gorgeous daughter Rosie got married to Paul, my new son-in-law, and together they created one of the most joyful parties I've ever been at. They're good at friendships, these two, and that's a treasure that will be worth its weight in gold over the years to come.
Here they are, just after making their vows. At their request, I spoke at the ceremony, and since people have been kind enough to ask for the words, I give them here. Anyone is welcome to use them - though you'll have to change names and places - but please tell me if you do. I'd love to know!
Two generations ago in Suffolk, Ray Gardiner married Joan Smith. Down in Surrey, Percival Dickinson proposed to Moraig Maclauchlan, and was accepted. Only a few miles away, though the two couples did not know each other, the wedding took place of Una Vincent and Nicholas Bristow. And in south London, not far from where Rosie and Paul live today, Gladys Padley and Alfred Howell celebrated their union. Four couples who could have no idea, as they made their marriage vows, that the choices they made would lead directly to this moment.
And with each step back through the generations, the number of names doubles. Back before living memory, before records began, people whose names are lost to history were plighting their troths, tying the knot, jumping the broom, handfasting or exchanging rings; weaving a carpet of many colours that unrolls from the far distant past to you, Rosie and Paul, and to the ground under your feet.
With the vows that you have just made, the weaving passes to you. Sometimes it will be a magic carpet ride, and sometimes the colours will fade and the patterns grow threadbare, and you’ll wonder why you ever took up this task. But don’t forget, when things get tough and you’re tempted to blame each other, that this is much, much bigger than the two of you.
All those marriages, and the ones you’ve witnessed in your own lifetimes, and the ones yet to come, are woven out of hope, of faith in the future; of love. They celebrate continuity, and the strength of human connection. And we, the friends and family you’ve invited to share that celebration, are all part of the weaving. We’re here to witness your vows, to share your joy, and to be there for you when you need us.
So now, as you step forward hand in hand into the future, may your hopes and dreams begin to take shape. Be your best selves as often as you can; and when you can’t, be gentle with each other. Remember that you’re not alone. Be bold, use bright colours, make new and beautiful patterns together. May you weave well.